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Ryder Cup 2016: US copying Europe to end losing run, says Mickelson

(l-r) Jimmy Walker, Rickie Fowler, Brooks Koepka and Phil Mickelson

Mickelson (right) is the most experienced member of the US Ryder Cup team and has won 46% of his matches

The United States have adopted Europe’s approach to the Ryder Cup to end a run of three defeats, says Phil Mickelson.

The 46-year-old, who is playing in his 11th event, has been part of a “task-force” set up to build a long-term US programme for the biennial tournament.

“Players, past captains, vice-captains and caddies have been involved in the process – like the model Europe have had tremendous success with,” he said.

“From this we will work forward and keep continuing to 2018 and 2020.”

This year’s three-day competition is being held at Hazeltine National in Minnesota and begins on Friday at 13:35 BST.

Mickelson is the fifth highest US points scorer with 19 from 10 appearances but has been on the winning side just twice since making his debut at Oak Hill in 1995.

“I give Europe a lot of credit for their ability to lift each other up to great heights,” continued the five-time major winner.

“When you get together as a team you can achieve much greater success than you ever can as an individual.

“In my 20 years, this is the first time we have been involved in the decision-making process. The decisions that we have been accountable for every year we now have involvement in those decisions – that gives us a whole platform to work from.

“This is the foundation week for us. It’s exciting to be part of the foundations of the US side going forward.”

Love the difference

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Mickelson and Love have been central to the United States challenge for 2016

In the immediate aftermath of losing at Gleneagles in 2014, Mickelson was critical of Tom Watson’s captaincy, saying none of the players had been consulted on “any decision” and the fall-out led to the creation of an 11-man “task-force”.

“When players are put in a position to succeed, more often than not, they tend to succeed,” said the left-hander, who was on the winning side in 1999 and 2008.

“And when they are put in positions to fail, most of the time they tend to fail.

“This year captain [Davis] Love has been putting us in a position to succeed.

“He’s taken input from all parties, taken decisions that have allowed us to prepare our best.

“We are playing a strong European team and I don’t know what that means result-wise but our best golf will come out this week.”

Perfect planning and preparation

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Mickelson says his disastrous partnership with Woods in 2004 was down to captain Hal Sutton

Mickelson further extolled the importance of the captain’s role by referring to his disastrous partnership with Tiger Woods in 2004 under captain Hal Sutton.

They were paired together on the opening day but lost both their fourball and foursomes matches as the US suffered their heaviest defeat in the competition, losing 18½-9½ on home soil at Oakland Hills.

“We were told two days before that we were playing together – that gave us no time to work together and prepare,” explained Mickelson.

“He plays a high-spin ball, I play a low-spin ball and we had two days to come up with a solution.

“I tried to learn his golf ball in a five-hour session, trying to find out how far it goes. It stopped my preparation, chipping, putting, learning the course.

“In the history of my career I have never tested a ball two days before a major. It doesn’t allow me to play my best.”

While Mickelson said he did not want to “knock” Sutton who he saw as a “decisive” captain who had “great leadership” qualities, he admitted to being “frustrated” that their failure is still brought up today.

“That’s an example of starting with a captain who put us in a position to fail and we failed monumentally,” he said.

“I’ve had to be accountable for that decision 12 years ago.

“A month ago, an analyst on television accused me of being a non-team player because I worked on an isolated hole away from the team [trying to learn Woods’ ball].

“That’s frustrating. To just say you need to play better is so misinformed because you will play how you prepare.”

Mickelson and Woods ‘having fun’

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Mickelson and Woods practised together but did not play together during the 2006 Ryder Cup at the K Club in Ireland

Woods, who is still recovering from injury, has also been part of the task-force and Mickelson says he has enjoyed working with the 14-time major winner.

“It’s been great,” said Mickelson. “In the last few weeks we’ve been talking on the phone multiple times a day.

“It’s been exciting because we’ve been on so many teams for so many years, so to have this much input in the process, the way Love has implemented it, has been fun for Tiger and I.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/golf/37500785